Hot Springs writer/director’s third film focuses on Elvis | Local

HOT SPRINGS | When local playwright, director and movie-maker Justin Gausman was 12 years old, he developed a thing for Elvis Presley’s music.

If he had to pick a particular album as his favorite, he said, it would be “From Elvis in Memphis,” a 1969 Presley effort that includes the big hits “Suspicious Minds” and “In the Ghetto.” Gausman likes the “cohesiveness” of the album.

Gausman didn’t realize it back then, but Elvis and his perpetually enjoyed music would eventually come to figure prominently in Gausman’s adult life, particularly when he set about writing the script for a movie he wanted to make.

In 2013, Gausman began working on the script to “Never Been To Graceland,” the story of several people whose lives intertwine with Presley’s iconic legend and his music.

According to Gausman, he wanted to write a script that would examine “the subculture of people involved in the Elvis phenomenon.”

Most people, Gausman said, see Elvis as an icon, a brand, the guy in the white jumpsuit eating peanut butter and banana sandwiches. Gausman wanted to examine that and explore ways to push back against the iconography that is Elvis.

“How many people who like a particular band have Barbie dolls of that band?” he said. Toy maker Mattel produced a collector’s edition of a “Barbie Loves Elvis” pair of dolls.  

“I wanted to address that phenomenon,” Gausman said.

So, his script — a blend of drama and comedy — revolves around a story about an older fellow, Larry Belasco, “an aging hippie,” who announces to the world that he is in possession of a long-lost, never-before-heard Elvis recording.

Naturally, this draws the attention of Elvis lovers.

One of them is Michael, an avid young Elvis fan at a crossroads in his life. Michael likes Elvis for his music.

Another is AJ, a young magazine journalist who is…

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